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Gordon Says Farewell To Talladega With A Pole Victory

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, October 24 2015
Jeff Gordon will say good-bye to Talladega by leading the field to the green flag on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett )

Jeff Gordon will say good-bye to Talladega by leading the field to the green flag on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett )

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Jeff Gordon will start what appears to be his final Sprint Cup Series race at NASCAR’s biggest track from the pole.

Gordon, who has announced that this will be his final season as a full-time driver in the series, won the pole on the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway oval with a lap at 194.500 mph on Saturday afternoon.

“I did know we had a fast car, but I wasn’t sure,” Gordon said. “This is a different car than what we had here earlier this year.  I mean everybody felt confident in the car and it was really fast in the drafting sessions, but we weren’t exactly sure when we made a mock qualifying run if we had what it took for the pole, but after that first run I knew the boys did what they do.”

Sunday’s was the fifth pole in 46 Talladega races for Gordon. He has four poles in 2015 which is the most in a season for him since 2008. Gordon now has 81 career pole positions to put him third all-time.

“This team has just done an amazing job this year on restrictor plate tracks,” Gordon said. “Just the preparation of the cars… I mean I’ve had some of the fastest restrictor plate cars this year because of their hard work.  When we’ve gotten the opportunity to qualify we have been on the pole each time.  That is not an easy thing to do and they have pulled that off.  So, yeah, this is a great way to get us started.  We have really run well. I’ve been excited about the restrictor plate (tracks) this year how well we have performed in the race.  But just haven’t quite gotten the results that we have needed and hopefully we execute tomorrow and can learn from some of the mistakes.  For me specifically getting to pit road, we worked on that a lot yesterday.  Other than that I feel really good about things.”

Second fastest in qualifying for Sunday’s race was Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, whose fast lap was at 193.638 mph.

Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson was third fastest.

Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing was fourth fastest while Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth.

“Everybody wants to qualify well and try to get an early pick on your pit stall if you can and do all those kinds of things,” Kenseth, who was bumped out of the lead with five laps to go last Sunday at Kansas Speedway, said. “With this kind of racing you make one wrong move or pick a line to stop moving then you could be 30th before you even know it within a lap. Starting position not super, super important here, but yet I’d rather be toward the front than in the back.”

Sunday’s race will offer 11 of the remaining Chase drivers a final chance to advance to the third round of the playoff.

Joey Logano, having won the first two-races of the second round, has already secured with of the eight third-round berths. He qualified 10th fastest.

“I don’t know what happened there,” Logano said. “We just lost a little speed from run one to run two and I’m not sure why.  We’ll start towards the front and be OK.  Qualifying here isn’t really a huge deal, but definitely having the track position by the end of the race will be important.  We’re gonna run hard.  We’re in a great position with the two wins that we got that we can run hard and race for a win.  There aren’t many other cars that can race like that, so I’m excited about being able to take advantage of the opportunity we earned.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, October 24 2015
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